No matter how incredible a band thinks their new album is or how much self-congratulatory backslapping happens within the safe confines of the recording studio, every band, even the most self-assured, tense up when faced with its initial round of reviews. You want to make the record that pleases you first and foremost with no compromise but when it's unleashed onto the general public you pray everyone likes it just as much as you do.
You will usually find out whether your new offering, this thing you've slaved over day and night for months, gets a cursory "yay" or "nay" during the inevitable press junket. For our new album ROCK AND ROLL IS BLACK AND BLUE, press days started way back in July when we kicked it off with two ten-hour days of interviews in Paris, France. Since then it's been an almost non-stop flurry of phoners, emailers, radio station ids and video clips everywhere from Los Angeles to Berlin with Canada being the last swing of interviews.
It was during this past week's round of interviews when a Toronto scribe came at me mildly hostile. I kept my wits about me and by the end of our discussion he admitted that he'd had a very wrong impression of me. When I pressed him for more details he sheepishly fessed up to having wrongfully pegged me as a cross between David Lee Roth, a Minor Threat album and Metallica's Kill 'em All. I took it as a compliment but I think he softened his true description for my sake.
We had officially finished our interview but couldn't help bend his ear to our band history and why we've been so misunderstood by most novice music journalists. Of course, within the span of two days, two other writers from my hometown erroneously described us as "metal" and "punk," respectively.
Back in the mid-90s there was a vibrant garage rock scene. This included everyone from Teengenerate, The Spaceshits, The Makers and The Deadly Snakes to the front-running Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Rocket From The Crypt. But despite The New Bomb Turks upgrading to Epitaph Records and Rocket From The Crypt signing to Interscope, the scene failed to take hold upstream and by 2006 most bands had faded into regional obscurity or broken up except for maybe The Hives, The White Stripes, King Khan and...us. While The Hives and The White Stripes had juggernaut momentum via NME, Agent Provocateur lingerie ads and Michel Gondry music videos, not to mention consummate songwriting, we quietly stayed the course occasionally poking above ground despite changing trends in popular music be it dance punk, electro-clash or indie folk. Our only problem was when we looked back, too many years spent as a band without a scene failed to give neophyte scenesters a reference point.
Just like Bobby Brown was "amping like Michael", the music climate truly does go in cycles. Cue METZ from Canada (2/3 Ottawa, to be exact). Whether newbie hipster critics/fans can sniff it out, METZ do their best rendition of the finest parts of the early to mid 90's noise rock scene and exceedingly well. They released their debut self-titled full length on Sub Pop Records the same day we released ours but nabbed all the hype. It was watching their name pop up in every Facebook Friend's thread and Twitter feed that had me venturing forth and combing the 'rags and blogs for more information. I wanted to hate them. No dice, unfortunately. I ended up liking them.
Hearing thunderous tracks like "Get Off," "Sad Pricks" and "The Mule" brought bands like Cherubs, Distorted Pony, Karp and The Cows to mind -- bands most people haven't thought of in ages let alone heard when they were around. And even though our band has spent more time abroad than home in the past dozen years, losing touch with the scene that spawned us, I still feel some sense of Canadian scenester pride hearing METZ. It's the same feeling when I heard Fucked Up's "Hidden World" and "David Comes To Life" and couldn't believe a band from my hometown had actually managed to bottle an idea that probably started with someone thinking "What if John Brannon fronted Chavez?"
Outlasting your own scene can make you feel both lonely and invincible with a dash of bitterness. I'm managing to keep the bitterness at bay, although you'd have to ask my eye-rolling bandmates if I'm succeeding. If METZ is the beginning of things to come, perhaps the pendulum will swing back to a time before monikers like "hipster" were divisively implemented; to a time where The Jesus Lizard and The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion seamlessly played shows together; to a time when you either got it or you didn't.